Title:
SHOWER BACK SCRUBBER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A shower-mounted back-scrubber device is installed on the wall of a shower stall at a height approximating the height of the user's back. The device has a pair of scrub brushes that rotate and reciprocate vertically. The user stands comfortably with his or her back abutting the device. The brushes traverse and clean the entire surface of the user's back without awkward manual manipulation or translation relative to the device. The brushes are motor-driven by a drive shaft connecting the motor to a transmission. The transmission and drive shaft have a telescoping connection that permits positioning a housing of the device relative to the motor. A controller regulates rotational and reciprocal speed of the brushes.



Inventors:
Malta, Jacob H. (New Britain, PA, US)
Application Number:
12/059589
Publication Date:
10/01/2009
Filing Date:
03/31/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
15/160
International Classes:
A47K7/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DEMUREN, BABAJIDE A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ryder, Lu, Mazzeo & Konieczny, LLC (Plymouth Meeting, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed as being new and desired to be protected by Letters Patent of the United States is as follows:

1. A device for scrubbing the human body, comprising: a housing adapted to be mounted to a vertical wall; a traveling carrier, vertically movable within said housing; a brush mounted on said carrier; a motor; and a transmission connecting said motor to said carrier, said transmission simultaneously rotating and vertically reciprocating said brush relative to said housing.

2. The device recited in claim 1, including a pair of brushes that simultaneously rotate in opposite directions.

3. The device recited in claim 1, including a controller for regulating the rotational and reciprocal speed of said brushes.

4. The device recited in claim 1, including a single motor that drives both rotational and vertical movement.

5. The device recited in claim 2, wherein said transmission includes a worm gear assembly for reciprocating said brushes vertically and a pinion gear assembly for rotating said brushes.

6. The device recited in claim 5, wherein the gear of said worm gear is fixed to said carrier and the worm of said worm gear assembly is rotatably mounted on said housing.

7. The device recited in claim 6, wherein the gear of said worm gear assembly is centrally located on said carrier.

8. The device recited in claim 7, said carrier including a pinion gear assembly located on each side of the worm gear assembly.

9. The device recited in claim 8, wherein the pinions of each pinion gear assembly are rotatably mounted on opposed sides of said carrier, and the racks of the pinion gear assemblies are mounted on opposed sides of the worm of the worm gear assembly.

10. The device recited in claim 9, wherein said racks are fixed parallel to and equidistantly from the worm and generally vertically on said housing.

11. The device recited in claim 10, wherein said pinions include fixed shafts extending from the central axis of each pinion gear.

12. The device recited in claim 11, wherein said brushes are removably fixed to said pinion shafts.

13. The device recited in claim 1, wherein said scrub brush reciprocates vertically between upper and lower limit positions and said device includes contact switches that reverse the direction of travel of said brushes at said limit positions.

14. The device recited in claim 1, wherein said carrier, transmission and brush are mounted on said housing.

15. The device recited in claim 14, wherein said motor is remote from said housing and connected to said transmission by a drive shaft.

16. The device recited in claim 15, wherein said transmission and drive shaft have a telescoping connection that permits the housing to move distally and proximally relative to the motor.

17. A device for scrubbing the human body, comprising: a) a housing that can adapted to be releasably mounted to a vertical wall within a showering enclosure; b) a carrier within said housing; c) a pair of scrub brushes located on the outside of said housing and rotatably mounted to the carrier by shafts that extend through slots in said housing; d) a transmission connected to said carrier within the housing, said transmission simultaneously rotating said brushes in opposite directions, reciprocating vertically said scrub brushes relative to said housing, and positioning said scrub brushes at the same height in the shower enclosure during reciprocation; and, e) a motor located remote from said housing.

18. The device recited in claim 17, including an adjustable connector between said motor and said transmission that enables the housing to move distally and proximally relative to the motor without disengaging the motor from the transmission.

19. The device recited in claim 1 wherein said housing is slideably attached to the vertical wall

20. The device recited in claim 19 wherein slideable attachment of said housing to said wall is provided by a pair of substantially parallel vertical rails affixed to said wall.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a device for scrubbing and massaging the human body, especially the back.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

There are a wide variety of known devices that enable a person to more easily scrub his or her back while showering. Back brushes having sponges, pads or bristles fixed to an elongate handle may be the most basic back scrubbing device. While relatively inexpensive and commonplace, back brushes have limited effectiveness for scrubbing the surface of the back and provide no massaging effect for the muscles of the back. Further, a person with limited flexibility or other handicap may not be able to properly manipulate a back brush behind the head, neck and/or back. Therefore, it would be desirable to provide a back scrubbing device that does not require awkward manual manipulation to clean the entire surface of the back.

Another form of back scrubbing device generally consists of one or more stationary brushes, sponges, cleansing pads or the like connected to a housing unit, which is removably or permanently fixed to a vertical surface in the shower. Examples of such devices are disclosed by Brignoni in U.S. Pat. No. 7,175,357, Brown in U.S. Pat. No. D444,916, Swann in U.S. Pat. No. D450,158, Jackson in U.S. Pat. No. 5,517,705, and Jahnke in U.S. Pat. No. 5,704,903. Such devices require the user to lean against the cleansing surface and then translate both vertically and horizontally relative to the cleaning surface until the cleaning surface has traversed the entirety of the user's back.

For a person with limited flexibility or mobility, and even healthy persons, translating one's torso while maintaining good contact with the cleansing surface is difficult and dangerous, especially when standing on a wet shower floor. Further, these devices provide no massaging effect on the muscles.

A similar but more complex form of back scrubbing device consists of one or more rotating brushes, sponges, cleansing pads or the like connected to a housing unit, which is removably or permanently fixed to a vertical surface in the shower. Examples of such devices are disclosed by Roach in U.S. Pat. No. 6,058,545, Richardson in U.S. Pat. No. 7,062,815, Goss in U.S. Pat. No. 5,345,640, Clark, Jr. in U.S. Pat. No. 6,996,861, and Sarel in U.S. Pat. No. 5,561,869. Such devices have cleaning brushes that are rotated by motors or impellers. While more effective than stationary brushes, such devices still require the user to translate both vertically and horizontally relative the cleaning brushes. Therefore, it would be desirable to provide a back scrubbing device that does not require the user to translate relative to the device in order to clean the entire surface of the back.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention comprises a device for scrubbing the human body, and in particular the user's back. In a preferred embodiment, the device is installed on the wall of a shower stall at a height approximating the height of the user's back. The device has a pair of scrub brushes that rotate and reciprocate vertically. The user stands comfortably with his or her back abutting the device. The brushes traverse and clean the entire surface of the user's back without awkward manual manipulation or translation relative to the device.

The device has a housing that can be releasably mounted to a wall within the shower. The brushes are mounted on a carrier within the housing. The carrier and brushes are driven by a motor through a transmission connecting the motor to the carrier. The transmission simultaneously rotates and vertically reciprocates the scrub brushes relative to the housing. The carrier, transmission and brushes are mounted on the housing while the motor is remote from the housing and adjustably connected to the transmission by a drive shaft. The transmission and drive shaft have a telescoping connection that permits the housing to move distally and proximally relative to the motor.

In a preferred embodiment, the pair of brushes simultaneously rotates in opposite directions. A controller regulates the rotational and reciprocal speed of the brushes. A single motor drives both rotational and vertical movement.

The transmission includes a worm gear assembly for reciprocating the brushes vertically and a pair of pinion gear assemblies for rotating the brushes. The gear of the worm gear is fixed to the carrier and the worm of the worm gear assembly is rotatably mounted on the housing. The gear of the worm gear assembly is centrally located on the carrier. The pinion gear assemblies are located on each side of the worm gear assembly. The pinions of each pinion gear assembly are rotatably mounted on opposed sides of the carrier. The racks of the pinion gear assemblies are mounted on opposed sides of the worm of the worm gear assembly. The racks are fixed parallel to and equidistantly from the worm and lie generally vertically along the shower wall. The pinions include fixed shafts extending from the central axis. The brushes are removably fixed to the pinion shafts.

The scrub brushes reciprocate vertically between upper and lower limit positions. The device includes contact switches that reverse the direction of travel of the brushes at the limit positions.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective of a back scrubbing device installed in a shower stall in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective of the back scrubbing device of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a cross section taken along lines 3-3 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a cross section taken along lines 4-4 of FIG. 3; and

FIG. 5 is a cross section taken along lines 5-5 of FIG. 3.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

For the purpose of illustrating the invention, an embodiment of the invention is shown in the accompanying drawings. However, it should be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that the invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown therein and described below. Throughout the specification, like reference numerals are used to designate like elements.

A device for scrubbing the human body in accordance with an embodiment of the invention is illustrated in FIGS. 1-5 and is designated generally by reference numeral 10. The device 10 is illustrated in FIG. 1 installed in a shower stall 6 and is described below with reference to that environment. However, it should be appreciated that the device 10 can be installed and used in other environments wherein people bathe such as a bathtub surround or the shower walls of a locker room.

The device 10 is also shown mounted to a vertical surface 8 within the stall 6 at a height approximating the vertical distance to the middle of the back of an average person. However, it should be appreciated that the device 10 could be mounted at a lower height and used in a similar manner to scrub and massage a person's lower torso, legs, or feet. To accomplish this, the device may be slidably mounted on two parallel rails 11a and 11b affixed to the shower wall so that the device 10 can be adjustably mounted within a range of heights and can be easily adjusted.

Referring to FIG. 1, the device 10 has a generally-rectangular main housing 12 having front 12a, back 12b, top 12c, bottom 12d, left 12e and right 12f walls. The housing 12 is preferably made from a sturdy, corrosion-resistant material such as plastic. The width “w” and length “l” of the housing may vary but should preferably be large enough so that the brushes 18 can traverse an average adult person's back in a single stroke. For example, in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-5, the housing is about 25.4 cm wide and about 83.8 cm long.

The housing 12 is preferably water-tight except for two vertically-extending slots 14 formed in the front wall 12a, and several drainage holes 15 in the bottom wall 12d as best seen in FIG. 5. The slots 14 traverse nearly the entire length of the housing 12. As best seen in FIG. 3, the housing 12 includes fasteners 16 fixed to the back side 12b, which releasable secure the housing 12 to the vertical surface 8 of the shower stall 6. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-5, the fasteners 16 comprise suction cups but may comprise other types of releasable fasteners, such as double-sided tape, that do not puncture the vertical wall 8.

A pair of brushes 18 extends from the front wall 12a of the housing 12. The brushes 18 reciprocate vertically within the slots 14 while they simultaneously rotate. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-5, each brush 18 has a circular base 20. Soft bristles 22 extend axially from one side of the base 20 and a socket 24 extending axially from the center of the other side of the base 20 and socket 24 may include a set screw 26 that threads into a radially-extending bore 28 to secure the brush 18 on one of the pinion shafts 50 as described below or may be removably attached by snap rings. By the removal of the brushes exchanged with rollers, the device may be converted from a scrubber to a massager.

The brushes 18 are powered by a motor 30, which is connected to a power source by electrical leads 32. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-5, the motor 30 sits on top of the sill of the shower stall 6 in a vertically-distal position from the main housing 12 to avoid direct contact from water expelled from the shower head or deflected off the user.

A drive shaft 34 extends from the motor 30 and connects to a transmission inside the main housing 12. An alternate design may include a DC motor driven by a power pack as is used in portable power tools. To protect the drive shaft 34 from corrosion and protect the user from injury, the drive shaft 34 is encased in a conduit 36. Preferably, the conduit 36 comprises an upper section 36a and a lower section 36b that telescope so that the length of the conduit 36 can be adjusted to accommodate vertical height adjustment of the main housing 12 on the vertical wall 8 of the shower stall 6. As described below, the manner in which the drive shaft 34 is connected to the transmission also accommodates vertical height adjustment of the main housing 12 on the vertical wall 8 of the shower 6.

The transmission simultaneously rotates the brushes 18 in opposite directions and reciprocates the brushes 18 vertically up and down. Vertical movement is generated by a worm gear assembly, which includes a worm 38, worm gear 40, and mounting brackets 42. The worm 38 comprises a threaded shaft having a length approximating the length of the housing 12. The worm gear 40 comprises a cylindrical segment having a threaded axial bore that meshes with the worm 38. Rotation of the worm 38 causes the worm gear 40 to move upwardly and downwardly along the worm 38.

Referring to FIG. 3, the worm 38 has an axial bore 39. The lower portion of the drive shaft 34 has a cross section that complements the cross section of the bore 39 so that the drive shaft 34 slides into the worm 38. Preferably, the complementing cross-sections are not circular so that the drive shaft 34 and worm 38 can not rotate relative to one another. For example, the drive shaft 34 may be splined or have a square cross section. The irregular, complimenting cross sections allow the drive shaft 34 and worm 38 to freely telescope to accommodate vertical height adjustment of the main housing 12 on the vertical wall of the shower.

Rotational movement of the brushes 18 is generated by two rack and pinion assemblies. As best seen in FIG. 2, a rack 44 is fixed to the back wall 12b of the housing on each side of the worm 38. Each rack 44 is arranged parallel and equidistantly to the worm 38. The racks 44 have a length approximating the length of the housing 12 and the worm 38. Each rack 44 engages a pinion 46. The pinions are mounted on opposed ends of a carrier 48 connected to the worm gear 40. Cover plates 49 straddle each rack 44 to prevent the pinions 46 from running off the racks 44. A square shaft 50 extends axially from the central axis of each pinion 46 through the elongate slots 14 in the front wall 12a of the housing 12. Each square shaft 50 inserts into the socket 24 of one of the brushes 18.

In operation, the worm 38 is driven by the drive shaft 34. As the worm 38 rotates, the carrier 48 is driven linearly vertically. The pinions 46, which are held in engagement with the racks 44 by the carrier 48, rotate as they translate along the racks 44. This combined linear and rotational movement causes the brushes 18 to rotate while simultaneously reciprocating upwardly and downwardly to scrub and massage the user's back. The transmission maintains the brushes 18 at the same height in the shower enclosure during reciprocation so that a balanced force is applied to the user's back.

The brushes 18 reciprocate vertically between upper and lower limit positions. In a preferred embodiment, the device 10 includes a contact switch 52 located near each end of the worm 38. The switches 52 are electrically connected to the motor 30 by wires 54 that are encased in an electrical conduit 56. Similar to the drive shaft conduit 36, the electrical conduit has telescoping upper 56a and lower 56b sections. As the worm gear 40 approaches either end of the worm 38, the carrier 48 contacts one of the switches 52, which reverses the polarity in the motor 30 and reverses the direction of the brushes 18.

The scrubbing and massaging device 10 can be used by persons of varying heights by adjusting the vertical location of the main housing 12 on the shower wall 8. To make the adjustment, the user need only release the set screws on the sliders which ride on rails 11a and 11b and reposition the main housing 12 at the desired height. The motor 30 remains in a fixed location. The length of the drive shaft 34 between the motor 30 and main housing 12 automatically adjusts by sliding freely in and out of the worm bore 39. The user need not make any other mechanical adjustment.

In a preferred embodiment, the motor 30 can be operated at variable speeds to control the speed of reciprocation and rotation of the brushes. In one embodiment, the motor 30 includes a control knob 58, which activates and controls the speed of the motor 30 by rotating the knob 58 between limit positions.

The foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention.